Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let't put some pedophiles out of business - because this is just not okay!

What if someone handed you over 40 live cases of pedophilia and the underage sex industry and asked for your help to catch, prosecute, and put away the perpetrators, making the streets a little safer for young girls and boys?

Would you do something?  Yeah - so would I.  And so will my friends at The Exodus Road, if they can raise the funds it takes.  Want to know something? I think it's pretty amazing that we get to do our part.  Like, as in, a gift.

Because sometimes when we look at this global, domestic, and local issue of commercially sexually exploited women and children/ human trafficking - well it seems too big.  It feels too vast. It appears too much for anyone to make any difference at all. 

I'm so glad about this, though - together, we can make change happen, one life at a time. 

We're praying again today - for God's justice and grace to bleed over the injustice of modern-day slavery, and for the freedom of every soul to choose His hope.  Praying for those who investigate, rescue, and restore these children's lives. Praying for these criminals to have to face the music and choose repentance while serving their sentence here on earth so they won't have to be serving an eternal one in hell. Praying for change, and the opportunity to take our own share of making it happen. 

And, I'm here to tell you that God answers our prayers. If you've been wondering what you can do to stop human trafficking, I've got two great answers for you today.  You can choose one or the other, but I REALLY hope you'll do both.

1.   The undercover team working with partners at The Exodus Road (an NGO that empowers real rescues in SE Asia) needs about $35/night to conduct local investigations, and the blogging team I serve with wants to send these men out for an entire month, 30 nights. The funds will go to the travel, lodging, and investigative expenses. We will literally be "hiring" an investigator, on our behalf, to go look for children and to gather the evidence needed to put pedophiles behind bars. It's exactly what needs to be done - and now!

Would you join me? We have one week to raise the funds needed to send out to this trained team of operatives. I'm asking each of us to donate just $15 to this cause. And giving is as simple as pulling out your phone, literally.
With your smartphone, text the word "4thekids" to: 41444. You'll immediately receive a link. Follow the link and make a tax-free donation with your credit card.
If you'd rather give online [for those of us who don't have smartphones yet], you can donate here to give at The Exodus Road site. Write "bust pedophiles" in the comment section.  And, as if that wasn't easy enough - I also have a button in my sidebar this week and with just a few clicks - you can make a difference in the life of a child facing the horror of being sexually exploited.  It's up to us, and I know we can do this if we fight together.

2. You can prepare yourself to be a first responder to victims of trafficking right here on your own turf.  Some people get mad because attention to this issue goes "over there" to aide the global/foreign facet of this fight, and not enough attention gets placed right here where it happens in our back yards.  My solution is the same as it is with sharing the Gospel - here, there, and everywhere - we need to be aware, ready to fight, prayerfully battling in the spirit realm, and addressing each life as precious. 
 So be ready. If you suspected abuse, activities of pedophilia, or even a case of sexual exploitation, would you know how to report it?  Would you know what to look for?  I'm not asking everyone to morph into professional investigators here, but as we open our eyes to what is happening around the world, may we also open our eyes and our hands to what is happening in our own communities as well.  I want to to know what to look for and what to do, so human trafficking doesn't slip by on my watch.

Would you join me?

Find out who in your area to call if you suspect anything. For me, I've got the numbers programmed into my phone so I can call at any time I have any reasonable evidence of child abuse.  If you live in PA like me, you can call CHILDLINE at 800-932-0313 to report it.  Go ahead, Click HERE and program the number for your state into your cell phone too. 
Also, call your local police station and ask a hypothetical question. Say that you're learning more about the issues of pedophilia and sexual exploitation of children, and you want to know who to contact if you ever suspect anything. Depending on your area, they might give you the number to the FBI or another law agency who might have a human trafficking task force nearby. Also, I've included some phone numbers of some safe houses I could refer a victim to, if needed. They're all in my contact list. If I come across something suspicious around me, I know what to do, do you?  Here are a few more links if you'd like to be even more prepared:

To Report Child Pornography [from the USDOJ website]
  • To report an incident involving the production, possession, distribution, or receipt of child pornography, file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)'s website at www.cybertipline.com, or call 1-800-843-5678. Your report will be forwarded to a law enforcement agency for investigation and action.
  • You may also wish to report the incident to federal, state, or local law enforcement personnel.

This is huge, friends, but my God is even bigger. Today - as we look, fight, give, and pray - may we remember that He cares for these children too. Even more than our hearts ever could. His hand is at work, and He lets us get our hands into the restorative work too. Thank you so much for fighting with me. I couldn't do it alone.

Praying today for justice and redemption.

"Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.  Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have." - 2 Corinthians 8:11-12 (NLT) 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

a few housekeeping items ...

Bonjour, Readers!

1.  I'm looking for new questions for my Saturday column "a little bird told me." So here's my shpeal:

 Do you have a question, Dear Heart? Don't be shy! Don't hesitate to ask - about life, the Bible, faith, God ... anything really. (Okay that last one was scary - but since I'm trusting Him to help me, I'll leave it.) Just post your question in the comments below, or email them to me at robynleelangdon@gmail.com . I'll keep you anonymous, and you can sign your letter however you like (i.e. Curious-About-Jesus or Needing-Some-Guidance-in-Revelation).  Just put "a little bird told me" in the subject line. Won't you be brave enough to ask, too? I'll bet you're not the only one wondering! 

2. I'll be posting more about this on Tuesday, but this entire week, we have an opportunity to take our resources and use them to fight injustice. I got this from the Exodus Road this week:

We have a story and a project for you today. Our team in SE Asia recently met with the local police responsible for cases of trafficking in a particular city where sexual slavery is rampant. These are trusted officials who are overwhelmed with the flourishing sex trade in their area. So overwhelmed, in fact, that they handed our investigative team over 40 live cases of pedophilia and the underage sex industry and asked for their help.

Check out the sidebar for information about how to give via your smartphone or via the link. It's easy-peasy, and they're doing all the hard parts. So why wouldn't we help?

3. I would delight to hear what you're learning from God and His Word. I always get to share lots of that here with you, but I want you to tell me what you've learned recently too.  Please leave me a comment - today or any time. I love to hear from my readers!

That's all for today, since I'm here in NC enjoying my sweet niece, relatives, and my wonderful Guy of 13 years on Monday. I'm so thankful for him, and all these gifts!

In His Hand [always],



Friday, May 24, 2013

Freewrite Fridays {Failure}

I'm feeling a bit blue today. It's been off and on all week. Just a general sense of sadness or weight that I can't seem to shake. Some days are like that. Not just for me. I know the devil might like to say I'm the only one, to shame me, but I know I'm not.

Photo Credit: Songbirdgarden.com

I'm going to be writing about it in a bit, but I thought that a couple of you (or several maybe) might be able to relate and write with me.

“Writing is not just jotting down ideas. Often we say: ‘I don’t know what to write. I have no thoughts worth writing down.’ But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself. As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there." -Henri Nouwen   [emphasis mine]

Freewrite for 15 minutes or more about - The shame of failure.

If you like, share it here as a comment or a link to your blog in the comments section below.

"Where could I go in my shame?" - 2 Samuel 13:13

I'm praying today. Turning to Him. Just because I'm not giving you the answer, doesn't mean He doesn't have one. Keep writing, Keep seeking, Keep bending, Dear Ones.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

just a bit of stillness

Praying quietly here in the nest for victims of the tornadoes' wakes, as well as for victims of trafficking and injustice all around this twisting globe. I hope you'll be praying with me too.

Longing for Home in the stillness of His Hand,


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gratitude Lessons from Oswald, Jimmy, and Edward

Looking at just me, there's not much to see.
If I'm on the stage - trouble. Complaining. Discontent.
But when He shines through, no spotlight will contain this glory.
I see Jesus, and all His gifts.
And I'm thankful.

No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges - always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. -Oswald Chambers

May my selfish mouth close long enough to ponder His love before I reopen it in thanks instead.

If He's the only One on my stage, my focus will be directed rightly. My hands will open in applause instead of clutching for control or attention.

Edward Mckendree (E.M.) Bounds reflects on a person lacking in dedicated prayer:
He has not in himself the mighty life-creating forces. There may be no discount on his orthodoxy, honesty, cleanness, or earnestness; but somehow the man, the inner man, in its secret places has never broken down and surrendered to God, his inner life is not a great highway for the transmission of God's message, God's power. Somehow self and not God rules in the holy of holiest. [emphasis mine]
If self rules ... He's no longer my God - I am.  And let me tell you firsthand - I make a horrible savior. I'm no good at being sovereign. I fail every time I'm in a position to be the one to change hearts. Oh no. Only One can do those things. Give those gifts.

And it will never be me. But I'm so incontestably, overwhelmingly, undetractingly thankful to know my One True God who reigns and gives and forgives every day.  Here are a few of the grace-gifts He's given me lately. Thank you, Dear One, for the privilege of sharing them with you on Thursdays.  

- fun laughing and relaxing with a friend and catching up on each other's lives together over a soda

- sunshine to open the blooms and draw out the sprouts of seeds

- my mom, and the way she encourages me and believes in me

- the shocking privilege and joy of being mom to my two sweet nestlings

- Mother's Day lunch at a Mexican restaurant, a delicious burrito, and the privilege of giving to another mom

- silly laughter with our friends and our kids

- for the strength and love you put in my heart so I can love like You love

- a red cardinal perched out on the window

- my Life Group, and vulnerable tears with other women

- three laps around the block - time, energy, and motivation to exercise

- a long, groggy, sweet hug from J, and that he finds me first thing in the morning, seeking my arms and nearness to my heart

- the feeling of satisfaction I get when I can be helpful to teachers while I'm working

- for waking up to You and Your grace again

- the privilege of sharing Your Word with my Guy

- throwing the baseball in the yard with all four of us as the sun goes down

Lord, You should be the only One on my stage, the only God I worship, the only Being of my focus. Would You help me to take myself and my self-pity off of that glory-podium? I know I matter to You, and I don't have to make You prove that any more.  I'm so thankful for all these gifts of grace, and so many more I haven't even had the time to write yet. You alone are worthy. You alone are good. You alone deserve my life as a willing bond-slave to Your purposes. May I live to serve You and not myself. In this moment, and every one hereafter.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Simple Obedience

What if we just did what we already know?

Most of my obedience issues, my surrender problems, my control grasping - they come from a lack of follow-through as opposed to a lack of knowledge. Too much analyzing, too many questions, too little of (if I may borrow from Nike) just do it.

Don't get me wrong - I need a constant inflow of knowledge, analysis, and even my questions aren't wrong. But if I'm honest, most of the time I already know what to do, and I often need to stop asking why and what it means and what will happen ... and just Simply obey.

Your testimonies are very sure; holiness [apparent in separation from sin, with simple trust and hearty obedience] is becoming to Your house, O Lord, forever. -Psalm 93:5 (Amp)

photo credit: Sijanto Sijanto 

I love that. Robyn's version of it might say, "You tell the truth, Jesus. So I can trust and obey you, which will beautify Your dwelling indefinitely, and make You feel at home here in me, Your Temple."

Yeah. Today I just want to simply do what I already know, and do it well, knowing I'll put a smile on His face.

Even better - I don't even have to do it alone - He'll give me the unction and know-how too. Look - 

"By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life." - 2 Peter 1:3a

Not just some of what I need. Not even most of what I need. EVERYTHING I NEED TO SIMPLY OBEY, THROUGH HIS POWER ALONE.

Oh yes - I can do this, even when the devil says I can't. He never tells anything but lies and I'm sick of falling for them anyway.

Guess what, Dear One - you can simply obey too!

Here's a challenge for this week:

1. look up your favorite translation of these two verses - Psalm 93:5 and 2 Peter 1:3, and write them out where you'll see them often.
2. pray about what you already know you should be doing and then ask God to give you the power to just do it.
3. leave me a comment below so that I can pray for you and (gently) hold you accountable. 
4. make an effort to share with someone you know and trust what your simple obedience is going to be, and then make a note to proclaim God's goodness in you when His power through you allows you to succeed. (Because I trust in Him that you will)

Lord - thank You for the gift of knowing how to glorify and please You with a godly life, and thank You also for the power to follow through and do it. It's like you've made it easy on us, though to our flesh and to the world obedience seems complicated. You are so worthy of our obedience, and we long to bring a smile to Your face.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

does she really matter? {and a bit about my daughter}

My husband said this at the dinner table last night to my daughter - "You're special because you care about the outsider and the underdog." 

Every night at dinner we take turns saying what's special about one another. It's a tradition we started when the kids were in kindergarten (ish). A good one too. Because everyone should be affirmed in who God made them. Who we are IN Him. Because our identity as defined by our Maker is more true than what anyone else would define. So we look for the God in each other, how He's shining His life in each of us uniquely, and we declare that encouragement aloud when we come together. 

I'm not boasting here, though it may sound like it. Some nights it feels like just another "thing" to do. I don't have the perfect family, far from it. After this lovely moment at the table my Guy and I were so passionate in our "discussion" that I subsequently could feel the blood pulsing in my head and neck. It's not a moment I would repeat. Believe me - we make mistakes and we bleed red blood and we have our fair share of apologies in the Langdon home. But there are some things we do well. Encouragement is one of them. When he said that to her - I knew with every cell of me that it is so very true. It's Him shining through her. 
We always carry around in our bodies the reality of the brutal death and suffering of Jesus. As a result, His resurrection life rises and reveals its wondrous power in our bodies as well. -2 Corinthians 4:10 (VOICE) [emphasis added]
And here you are thinking, "It's Tuesday, Robyn - what does this have to do with justice or human trafficking anyway?"

I'm getting there, Precious Reader.

My daughter's only eleven years old, and she holds this special gift of love for the unloved. You can see it in the way she befriends the awkward girls in her class, and makes them feel special. At a school performance one of the gals hid behind my daughter while she gently encouraged her to keep singing and stand up. I was so proud of my girl, even in the middle of that strained display.  

One characteristic that distinguishes followers of Christ is should be the Father's unconditional value on all human life. I'm so thankful my daughter has this trait. But when he said that it makes her special and I resonated that it is indeed rare, I also simultaneously thought, But shouldn't that be as common as Christianity? After all, didn't Christ say,

“When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” -Luke 14:12-14 (NLT)
And then I ask myself the same thing. Do I value every life on earth as just as precious as my own, or as my daughter's? Jesus help me.

In human trafficking, as in every justice issues, I believe this is the bottom line. Are human souls precious to God, each one? If yes, are they precious to us also? Even the un-attractive, dirty, messy, dysfunctional, addicted, abused, poor? Is any soul less worthy of the grace I have received?

I'm reading Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd.  I hope to have a review for you soon. It's a gripping story of a woman "Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds her Calling and Heals Herself" [subtitle]. In it I found this halting passage:

While there are clear systemic and social issues that leave children vulnerable, the recognition of this reality presents a constant challenge in advocating for exploited girls. In describing in the poverty and the abuse that girls experience prior to their commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, the response too often is that these girls inevitably aren't really going to have great lives anyway. I remember arguing fiercely one day with a lawyer who was representing a thirteen-year-old who'd been charged with a serious crime that her thirty-five-year-old "boyfriend" had committed. I wanted him to fight for her to be charged as a juvenile so that her record would eventually be sealed. Snorting with laughter, he said, "It's not as if she's going to be a brain surgeon, so does it really matter?" It appears that if you're already considered damaged goods, or doomed to a life of poverty, then being further victimized is not quite as bad.
Damaged goods. Doomed. Further victimized. Not quite as bad.

Can you hear the slither and the forked tongue? In case you didn't know - that is the devil's voice, in direct contradiction and contempt of God's heart.  Because His heart loves each one the same. And if we believed it, felt it, cried it, bled it, lived it ... what could it change?

One link for today - please do what God places on your heart for the "one who could not repay you." God's reward awaits, and it is better than any attention or fame or riches this world offers.

As we close for today - open your prayer closet with me, would you, Dear Heart?

Lord, please show us Your heart. Open our eyes to the way you see each person, each child, each underdog. None are less precious to You than I. None less precious than my dear sweet girl who sits next to me at my table, who slips her arm around me in the hallway with her friends, whose eyes hold Your glory.  Show me God, how to love them too. Show me what it looks like to invite those people to my table too. What would I want with repayment from another person when my reward will always be in You?  Show us all what justice looks like, Father. What it means to love those You love.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review Monday {The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis}

What is love? How do people define it, and How does God reveal it?

C.S. Lewis tackles these big questions in this philosophical nonfiction. I highly recommend it, but you'll have to set aside a chunk of time - it's no afternoon-on-the-beach read. Best digested in small portions, this classic work from the great theologian and diversified word-smith will challenge your long-held notions about friendship, romance, and God from the first page to the last. You may find his style of writing in The Four Loves, as well as all of his theological works, formal and scholarly, but his familiar addressing of the reader breaks that down a bit, as if you were having coffee with the professor while turning the pages.

photo credit: Orange Donkey

In his introduction, Lewis argues for the distinction between Gift-Love and Need-Love, with both as necessary and playing different roles in different relationships - which is where the four loves, Affection, Friendship, Romance (or Eros), and Charity come in.  Gift-Love, he claims, is similar to when a parent is loving a child by meeting his needs, or a husband works to provide for his family. Compared to when God loves us - He give to us, and when we love Him, it is very often the Need that draws us to His grace, peace, provision, and hope. And we are not to be shamed for filling any of these giving or needing types of loves. Both are necessary, and one is not greater than the other in us, as demonstrated in this quote:
It would be a bold and silly creature that came before its Creator with the boast "I'm no beggar. I love you disinterestedly." Those who come nearest to a Gift-love for God will next moment, even at the very same moment, be beating their breasts with the publican and laying their indigence before the only real Giver. And God will have it so. He addresses our Need-love: "Come unto me all ye that travail and are heavy-laden," or, in the Old Testament, "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it."
Another distinguishing paradox Lewis noted is that while God is Love, we must not be deceived into making Love our god, in which case, it would then become a demonic idol. He quoted M. Denis de Rourgemont more succinctly as saying, "love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god."

The first category of love addressed is Affection, or the most common, basic, humble satisfaction that comes from being together with another. It can be mixed among the other loves, but doesn't need to be. I like his explanation and can relate to this:
But Affection has its own criteria. Its objects have to be familiar. We can sometimes point to the very day and hour when we fell in love or began a new friendship. I doubt if we ever catch Affection beginning. To become aware of it is to become aware that it has already been going on for some time.
The second love, Friendship, Lewis claims, is the rarest form because it is least necessary for survival. And, also, perhaps because it is the form that comes with several dangers, namely inadvertent elitism (or the appearance thereof to outsiders), and misunderstandings of homosexuality (since our present post-modern society does not condone forms of previously accepted, same-gender affection such as kissing or embracing, as they had in the ancient world). But Friendship, he argues, is the least jealous of the four Loves (as long as all who are involved are kindred souls), and also the least biological (though not altogether un-biologically useful). To me the most striking element of Friendship Lewis points out would be:
In a circle of Friends, each man is simply what he is: stands for nothing but himself ... It is an affair of disentangled, or stripped minds. Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.
And also:
 It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.

As much as I adored and agreed with those points there, I abhorred and disagreed with his claim that men and women (particularly among groups) cannot be Friends. In an uncharacteristically sexist rant, Lewis claims that women only converse in "endless prattling 'Jolly' [which] replaces the intercourse of minds," and quotes one women, therefore stereotyping all women as having her equally manipulative agenda, as saying, "Never let two men sit together or they'll get talking about some subject and then there'll be no fun."

Do you ever have those moments when you wish you could go back in time and apply duct tape to someone's (or your own) mouth so she wouldn't just go ahead and ruin it all for everyone? Yea - that's me with this gal. Ugh. That Lewis draws his conclusions about women and mixed friendships from her infuriates me, so it's a good thing I like pretty much all of the rest of the book and his other writings, preventing me from dismissing him altogether on this one.

Lewis redeemed himself (or shall I say, Christ redeems him) in the Eros chapter, and especially this distinction between it and mere sexual desire, which he calls Venus:
Sexual desire [Venus], without Eros wants it, the thing in itself; Eros wants the Beloved.

He also offers this particular distinction of Venus, which points to our current societal problem of human trafficking and prostitution from the perspective of demand:
...we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he 'wants a woman'. Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. [emphasis mine]
The author makes a convincing argument that just as Eros is not all about sex, so it is neither all about happiness:
For it is the very mark of Eros that when he is in us we had rather share unhappiness with the Beloved than be happy on other terms.
Finally, Lewis addresses Charity as the final, and crucial element of all Love.  This love from God, through God, by God and in God alone is truly what makes the other loves viable in the human heart. We must permit God to love us first, and also put Him first among our Beloveds, lest [oh gosh - I really have been reading quite a few classics lately] we make Love our god rather than Jesus Christ Himself.   Nonetheless, the risk of loving another and getting hurt is still worth the Charity in us God intends. We were made to love God and other people, regardless of the peril we face in doing so.
The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. ... If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.
This post has been full of quotes, so I'll offer only one more about Charity - as initiated by God through the Cross, and as demonstrated as our model of loving Him back, as well as extending love to others who may or may not be deemed "worthy" of any of our love:
God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing...the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against  the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath's sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a "host" who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and "take advantage of" Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves. [emphasis mine]

Shew! Is it worth the read after all that? Oh yes! I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of deep-thinking analysis on this element which makes us above all human, as described and eloquently detailed in The Four Loves. I highly recommend it to anyone curious about feelings, actions, words, and theories about love and God. You won't regret the hours it takes to sort through this short book and its delightfully profound insights. If your soul has muscles, this book is a weight machine for your soul. When you finish, you will feel the vitality of strength pulsing through you. Even if you don't agree with all of his arguments, Lewis does what only few writers can: he takes the truth which has only been in the recesses of your thoughts, makes it his too, and then displays it on the page with woven words and paragraphs.

Happy Reading, Friends!  I LOVE you. *wink*


Saturday, May 11, 2013

a little bird told me ... {Changing the mind of God}

Here's the question I got last week:

Dear Robyn,
Can our prayers change God's mind?
photo credit: Terry Lunn

Dear Friends,

Yes! There a couple of biblical examples I will remind you of:

Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz paid him a visit and said, “Put your affairs in order; you’re about to die—you haven’t long to live.
Hezekiah turned from Isaiah and faced God, praying:Remember, O God, who I am, what I’ve done!I’ve lived an honest life before you,My heart’s been true and steady,I’ve lived to please you; lived for your approval.And then the tears flowed. Hezekiah wept.
Isaiah, leaving, was not halfway across the courtyard when the word of God stopped him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, ‘God’s word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I’ve listened to your prayer and I’ve observed your tears. I’m going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of God. I’ve just added fifteen years to your life; I’m saving you from the king of Assyria, and I’m covering this city with my shield—for my sake and my servant David’s sake.’ ” - 2 Kings 20:1-6 (Msg)

After King Hezekiah had been healed, he had fifteen healthy years, and enjoyed the joy of having another son - this guy: 

Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. In God’s judgment he was a bad king—an evil king. He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when God dispossessed the pagan nations in favor of the children of Israel. He rebuilt all the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, and he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and sex goddess Asherah, exactly what Ahaz king of Israel had done. He worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. He even built these pagan altars in The Temple of God, the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by God’s decree (“in Jerusalem I place my Name”) to God’s Name. And he built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of The Temple of God. He burned his own son in a sacrificial offering. He practiced black magic and fortunetelling. He held séances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil—in God’s judgment, a career in evil. And God was angry. - 2 Kings 21:1-6 (Msg.)

So - yes, it is possible, and I do believe He still listens so closely and loves us so much that He will indeed give us what we long for, ask for, and often beg for. (see also Luke 18:1-8) The problem with that is, what if what we long for seems good, but really isn't?  In all honesty, I've received something from God that wasn't good for me because I asked Him for it for an entire month straight. Did I change His mind, I'm not sure - but I know He did redeem the difficult situation for His glory and my good.  Had I not asked, could I have avoided all of the trauma? I can't say. 

Which brings back up our point from last week about why we pray in the first place. To which I would once again say, because prayer is about intimacy with God and surrender-cooperation with His will. 

Here's another example:

The Lord said to Moses, “Get going, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt. Go up to the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I told them, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’  And I will send an angel before you to drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.  Go up to this land that flows with milk and honey. But I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I did, I would surely destroy you along the way.” - Exodus 33:1-3 (NLT)

God was so fed up with the Israelites that He said - Go on your own. I'll give you what I promised you I would, but I'm not coming with you. If I come with you, I just might kill you all along the way. To which Moses pleaded with God, claiming,

 “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”  

The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” - (vs. 15-17)
In this case, I believe the "change" in God's mind wasn't truly a directional change. When we look at this from a wider perspective, we see that God had promised that He would go with them and be their God.

“I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!” -Exodus 6:6-8 (NLT)
So Moses was not changing God's mind so much as he was calling God on His first promise to be with them.  He was interceding on the people's behalf for God's forgiveness of their stubbornness, and asking for mercy for all of them.

Okay. Deep breath. That was a lot of Scripture for one post. Let's conclude for now. Off the top of my head, I can think of also Abraham in the matter of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as Jonah and Ninevah as examples of God seeming to change his mind in response to prayer or intercession. I'll let you check those out on your own.

As we consider all of this, let us conclude that God's will and His promises toward us do not change. He is always faithful and good to us, and will indeed bring the good work He started in us to completion, and work all (even the seemingly difficult, painful, and bad) circumstances for our good, if we love Him and are called His. (Phil 1:6 and Rom. 8:28).  Can our prayers change His mind? Yes - it is possible - but why would we want to change His mind if we trust that He is always only good and faithful to us? Our prayers, rather should be that of calling on His promises, interceding on behalf of others (according to His will), confessing our sins and our desires to emulate His Son, and praising Him with gratitude, knowing we can trust His intentions are loving and beneficial, for our good and His glorification.

I hope that makes sense, Friends. Will you allow me the privilege of praying for you?

Lord, please guide my friends in Your wisdom and sovereign knowledge as they pray. I'm so thankful that You know what's best for us, and that we can surrender to Your loving hand and will in every situation. God, Your faithfulness amazes me so much. We are so thankful that we can trust in Your goodness and Your Word in everything.

 Do you have a question too, Dear Heart? Don't be shy! Don't hesitate to ask - about life, the Bible, faith, God ... anything really. (Okay that last one was scary - but since I'm trusting Him to help me, I'll leave it.) Just post your question in the comments below, or email them to me at robynleelangdon@gmail.com . I'll keep you anonymous, and you can sign your letter however you like (i.e. Curious-About-Jesus or Needing-Some-Guidance-in-Revelation).  Just put "a little bird told me" in the subject line. Won't you be brave enough to ask, too? I'll bet you're not the only one wondering!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gratitude on Thursday

I found this coming out of my mouth as I had coffee with a friend yesterday:

"I feel like I'm walking on a high wire or tight rope, and I'm holding a really long pole. One on side of my pole are all the difficult, hard, sad, infuriating things in my life that I need to at least acknowledge so that I don't stuff them, and on the other side are all of the really fantastic blessings I have that I can't let go un-thanked either. It's like I have so much of both extremes that the balancing of it gets overwhelming."

She nodded, acknowledging an understanding that she'd been here on this tight rope too. I love the feeling that comes when another soul "gets you."

And I was thinking about that high wire again while walking around the path at the park last night. Confessing and consecrating it all, talking to the One who holds my balance. Today, I'm so thankful for His reminder:

"Child, the only way you'll be able to balance is if you keep your eyes focused straight ahead on Me. And you can."

Again today - I share some of my gratitude list with you, Dear Heart. I pray it will inspire you to begin or continue to count all the ways He loves you and draws your focus straight ahead to His grace. Even more, I pray it will be a display of His glory, never mine.

- This video - hope in the face of hopelessness (We just got our picture of our sponsored girl, Pooja, who just so happened to be one of the featured children on the site. I don't know how that happened - her profile was there along with a number of others on our table when Pastor Cawston came.  What I do know - she's already tied up in the strings of my heart, and my arms ache to hug her like they did when my own daughter was in my womb. If I saw her today I'd kiss her beautiful cheeks. I wouldn't care about cultural barriers. Maybe it's good I can't, lol)

- Little Nina, and the way her face lights up when she sees me in the hall

- a warm hug from C at school, and the privilege it is that she can have lunch with her son at school

- an oriole, black with orange under his wings, and all the variety of birds here in this glorious place

- full blossoms of the dogwood trees, and the green of spring all around

- for peace and contentment to do just this which is right in front of me

- coffee with my friend, D, and the privilege to be an intercessor for her

- this verse, and Lizzie's spot-on exegesis of one of my all-time favorites

- the scent of the creek and the trees at dusk as I walk around the trail

- this quote, from my devotional today:
"The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we will take this view, life will become one great romance - a glorious opportunity of seeing wonderful things all the time. God is disciplining us to get us into this central place of power." Oswald Chambers [emphasis mine]

- the ticking of time today - though it may not seem like enough to me, it is Exactly. What. You. Have. Given.

- the way You teach me about intercession, and then give me people to pray for. You truly are Jehovah-Jireh, providing everything good I want and need

Lord, Thank You. I'm unworthy of all this goodness, but You made me worthy when Your Son took my place and gave me His. I see the ways You love me, and I'm grateful. Because You've given me Your son, and all these things, I gladly give You everything I have too.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

standing up against brutality, and when grace unfolds

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible:

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. (2 Corinthians 4:16 (Msg)

Isn't the most beautiful, most glorious aspect of His grace often found in the way it unfolds?

Like a tulip.

See them there, among my mess? Unfolding in splendor and glory, unfurling, unwrapping, unwinding for days now while I scatter books and notes and scribbles in my Bread-Book and my notebooks, while I serve meals and wipe up spills and scold belches, while I debate exegesis with my Guy and we browse songs from Les Miserables and I say for the millionth time "It's too loud!"  Do you see this lovely unfolding of grace?  It's here - "on the inside, where God is making new life."

I'm absolutely and utterly astonished at the vast scope of our God. Because I see Him here among the soft uncurling petals of my tulips and my heart, and then ... then ... I see Him here:

photo Credit: India Rescue Mission

Look again. It says children. 

I still don't really understand how He can be here among the tulips and also there as Weeping Witness of putrid violation of little girls; but I trust, I believe, I know that He is.

Oh, how His grace unfolds!

In January I made a vow to God that I would blog every Tuesday about justice for the victims of Human Trafficking. My compassion for them started long before that, but this path jutted off there. I also sent my husband and two of my best friends to India on mission to a place where daughters are bred to be sold to brothels. No - I'm not lying. These three precious ones to my heart looked into the eyes of little girls whose petals were sold nightly to filthy "customers" for a few rupees. They came home to me and cried fountains of tears because what they had allowed God to show them had burst those springs wide and unstoppable. Sometimes what goes into your eyes causes only tears to come out. But tears are powerful prayers.

In February, the organization for whom I volunteer blog, The Exodus Road, announced a no-gimmicks program to rescue victims of the sex-trade [I hate calling it that - sex is NOT a commodity to be sold ... and yet it is] in India. I gave a little, invited others to do the same, and prayed a lot.

In March, I read the story of one victim and began to intercede for her too.  She taught me to crucify my veil that this injustice happens only over there. And in seeing the reality of what happens here, I began to pray for a new thing. And He told me, the developmentalist, never to despise the development of a work He calls His own.  Stay tuned for more on that.

In April I kept praying for the 7 and the 40 and the 1 victim and the 27 million slaves and the 13 million children and the 1 brother in the village with sisters, and I kept writing and fasting on Tuesdays. You might think that would get too complicated for my mathematically-challenged mind, but God said in his calculator that all of our prayers together added up to 89. Do you see them?

These 89 girls include 32 minors (under 18), and these are the faces, the eyes, the bodies, the hearts, the dreams, the minds, the precious flowers I was praying for - they were rescued from a single brothel in Mumbai in ONE NIGHT because we fought and they fought with them and the Holy Spirit fought, and now they can choose freedom.  I'm not so naive as to think their journey is over. Restoration is a long road. A lifetime journey of being a survivor and a thriver.

And now in May - we can't NOT celebrate this, and then keep praying for them. When I saw the news article I straight out clapped all by myself in my kitchen because He deserves every applause I can give. This is the unfolding of grace, Dear Ones. I want to shout it to you and high-five you and hug your neck and jump up and down with you. This is huge. This is answered prayer. The kind of exodus that only comes by fasting - it's here! 

And no, we're not done, but yes, this is GOOD - and how can we not smile for the victory through all these unfurling tears? I am so exceedingly thankful.

Keep praying, keep giving, keep fighting, dear soldiers - because Freedom Rocks!!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

a little bird told me - {Wondering-Why-We-Ask}

Hello Robin,

I also have a question to ask. I have a friend who is struggling through a tough time. His mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and is facing six months of chemo and radiation with an unsure prognosis. My friend is not saved, but he is becoming curious about God and we have talked many times about him. I am praying for his salvation and willing to be used however God needs me. We have not talked in person since his mom's diagnosis, but I will be seeing him soon. 

I guess my question is personal as well as for my friend. Sometimes I'm not sure how to look at things like this. We can pray to God and release our faith for healing, but there is no guarantee that God will heal her. God only knows if he will or not. Perhaps her illness (and maybe even death??) are part of his plan to reconcile other peoples' hearts, etc. There are so many scenarios that we can't even imagine - ways in which God could use this for his glory.

When we pray and petition God, if our prayer is according to his will, then he answers, right? But if we pray and it's not according to his will, he does not answer our prayer, right? OR, more accurately, he does not answer our prayer in the WAY we ask or expect. But he always has our good at heart and I most definitely believe that. I'd rather have his good and perfect will than to receive something that is not his best for me.

I've wondered - and I bet my friend is too - why don't we just pray for god's will to be done? Why even ASK for healing? (Or whatever is going on in your life that you need) if God already knows how he is going to answer. Then I think about how we are to come boldly to his throne as His children and ask what we need to ask. The Bible says we can and should! 

I have rambled, I'm sorry! This question is one that is complex to me. I have never for one second doubted God or his goodness, but at times I feel lost in this and definitely don't have answers for someone like my friend who is struggling.

Photo Credit: Vijay Cavale

Dear Wondering-Why-We-Ask,

I love your faith! I hope you know that you bring glory to God in the way You trust Him. I definitely think you're on the right good track.  Let's explore a little more about prayer and intercession, and I pray this will help. Before I begin, let me say thank you for your courage once again.

As a foundation for intercession, when we are praying on behalf of someone else to the Judge for a favorable outcome, I think it's most important to keep this in mind: If we're only seeking God's hand, we could very well miss out on His heart; but if we are seeking God's Heart, we will wind up with what is also in His hand. Oswald Chambers says it this way:
"I asked God for the Holy Spirit, but He didn't give me the rest and peace I expected." And instantly God puts His finger on the reason - you are not seeking the Lord at all; you are seeing something for yourself. [see Jeremiah 45:5]

When we pray, it's just as simple as a conversation with God, and He desires that simple honest faith that comes when we just talk to Him from what is in our heart and thoughts. We need not complicate prayer here. But when it comes to the prayers/intercessions that God answers and is pleased to answer - I find the prerequisite to be this: ask while seeking. Pursuing hard after His presence, pressing in for the revelation of what He wants to do above all else - these are pleasing to Him. He likes to answer those kind of prayers most because they are revealing His glory and drawing His people closer to Him. And isn't that what He's always after? What His will always is - truly the bottom line.  God wants people close to Him - worshiping and following and glorifying and praising Him. The devil wants the opposite - to do whatever is necessary to distract and pull people away from God and to steal as much of His glory and power as he can, getting people to worship anything but Jesus.

In this grande scheme, where does prayer (specifically the asking part) fit in? 

We could explore the Word all day about this one topic, but I'm going to choose two verses for our purposes here.

"You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." -James 4:2b-c (NIV)

The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose." -Exodus 33:19 (NLT)

In the first passage, James encourages God's people to ask for what they need (with righteous motives) or they won't get it. In the second, God is saying that He will do whatever He deems best, no matter what.

I believe that rather than ask ourselves which is true, we need to ask God how both can be true, and how He would like us to respond as we pray.

When we're asking those kinds of questions - we're aiming for His heart, which is the revelation of His love for us and for those He loves. And as we're aiming for His heart, asking for what we think He would desire, but surrendering the decision to Him ... I believe we'll find ourselves in His hand, ready to receive His gifts of grace, blessing, healing, and goodness.

When it comes to your friend, here's what I'd recommend: tell him about Jesus, and describe His great love in your best terms, according to your experience of it. Admit that people are limited in our understanding, so only God knows what will happen in any given circumstance, but that we can trust Him to be loving and good - in the details and in the life-and-death matters. He will define love and define good, but we will be secure if we choose to surrender our lives to Him, since He surrendered His life for us. 

I also like how Oswald Chambers describes the purpose of asking:
Ask God for what you want and do not be concerned about asking for the wrong thing, because as you draw ever closer to Him, you will cease asking for things altogether. "Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8). Then why should you ask? So that you may get to know Him. [emphasis mine]

That, by the way my friend, was my devotion on April 27th, the day you asked!  Just another astonishing blessing I find myself in the midst of as I'm seeking His heart.  Isn't He so good?

Jesus, would You continue to guide my brother or sister into Your wisdom, peace and most importantly - Your presence? I pray that s/he will not stop asking in faith for Your will to be done, believing that You hold every answer and power in Your hand. May this dear soul be given the boldness to speak the truth in love to this friend, especially in regard to his mother, and may You give the favorable healing, in Your timing and for Your glory. Ultimately I ask that everyone involved will know You as their God and see Your power and glory on display. We were made to worship You, and when we ask and You answer, seeking You and also Your will, we all, including You, fulfill the purpose we were made for.

I pray this is helpful as you reach for Him and His answers, Dear One. Don't stop asking, seeking, and knocking ... you'll find His heart and His hand are just a prayer away.

In His Hand,


Do you have a question too, Dear Heart? Don't hesitate to ask - about life, the Bible, faith, God ... anything really. (Okay that last one was scary - but since I'm trusting Him to help me, I'll leave it.) Just post your question in the comments below, or email them to me at robynleelangdon@gmail.com . I'll keep you anonymous, and you can sign your letter however you like (i.e. Curious-About-Jesus or Needing-Some-Guidance-in-Revelation).  Just put "a little bird told me" in the subject line. Won't you be brave enough to ask, too? I'll bet you're not the only one wondering!